100 Creatives 2014: K.J. Russell, Sci-Fi Author and Writing Teacher
All photos courtesy of K. J. Russell
There's a rumor that sci-fi author and writing teacher K. J. Russell is actually a "mustachioed robot powered by coffee and good science fiction." We're pretty sure that's just a rumor since robots usually lack any sense of humor or imagination and Russell has an abundance of both. We aren't ruling out a Multiplicity scenario (the Michael Keaton comedy about a man who makes clones of himself to handle his many roles as husband, father, boss and friend). Russell is, after all, a member of both the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Houston Writers Guild. He's both a teacher and a student, and both an editor and a writer. Yep, come to think about it, if Russell hasn't already made clones of himself, he might want to look into that.
What he does: Russell is a writer. His writing takes on many forms, he tells us, some of which are less 'writerly' than others. "I'm a workshop leader at Writespace, the director of publications for the Houston Writers Guild, an editor of anthologies and a student at the University of Houston. Usually this just boils down to 'I'm a writer,' because that's where all of these things come from."
Why he likes it: "Writing is how I think and how I learn. My eyes are for reading and my hands are for typing. I've been writing for so long that it's become part of who I am and why I am. It's the best way I have to process my thoughts, to have new thoughts, and to express my thoughts."
What inspires him: Russell gives us a short list when we ask about his sources for inspiration. "Everything," he tells us. Inspiration and ideas can be found in everything a writer experiences. For Russell, those experiences translate directly into stories. "Every time I see a great movie or read a good story, or hear a moving piece of music, I get energy from that which needs to become words."
If not this, then what: "I always wanted to be a writer; I never wavered on that. I studied physics for a semester or two at the University of Colorado, but I only half-wanted to be a physicist while being a writer. Writing has always been my focus. I sort of wanted to end up teaching one day, too, and thanks to Writespace that 'one day' came a lot [sooner] than I thought it would."
If not here, then where: Houston's been so good to me. I wouldn't have gotten this kind of support, this many opportunities, anywhere else. Where I come from, in Colorado, they have an excellent writing community. One of the best for someone just starting out. I still love Colorado, and I'm a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, so I guess if I had to go anywhere else I'd go back to Colorado. I have plenty of friends and colleagues working and writing up there. I still travel to Colorado from time to time and I miss the mountains and the snow. But Houston is home, now."
What's next: Russell has a long list of future projects. "I have another anthology coming out this year ... a fantasy anthology, one of my favorite genres to work and read in, and I'm collaborating on the editing with C. Stuart Hardwick." He'll be teaching a have a six-week novel-writing workshop at Writespace later this fall.
"I'm hoping to travel to Colorado Springs at the end of January for a sci-fi writers conference. Then I'm looking ahead into a whole new year with the [Houston Writers Guild], Writespace, my studies at UH and [I'm working on] more books to release."
Yep, he really should consider going the Multiplicity route.
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Emily Robison, choreographer and filmmaker John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer
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